I’ve been thinking since this morning about the racist video that went viral where some Oklahoma State students express vile racist stuff in a chant. The video is short, but excruciatingly hard to watch in my opinion, as the students seem so self-assured and empowered in their horrific message. That an offensive “n” slur is beeped out almost makes it all worse– it really drives home just how offensive the  chant is. As a gay man, I finds the video enormously chilling. Here we have young handsome college lads proudly, loudly and unabashedly proclaiming themselves victors at discrimination! In no way does this video relate to me, as I’m a white male now almost 40 years out of college. But on the other hand, the message seems to speak exactly to me and others who are Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, and Queer. As today, we liken the movement for our equality to that of the African American Civil Rights efforts, these smiling college pretty boys are proclaiming victory over our exclusion, every bit as much as they are trumpeting their racial bigotry.

They look happy don’t they, as they chant again and again? And if you haven’t watched, it, you ought to sit yourself down and force yourself to see it. You need to bear witness to it, for while there is no blood or physical violence present, it is every bit as damaging.

Three thoughts come up for me:

  1. I’d bet that many who are either marginally participating or watching aren’t really supportive of the chant, but they are either too bust enjoying the camaraderie that grows from bullying others or too sheepish to stand up against something so wrong.  If these are tomorrow’s leaders, we are a doomed culture.
  2. I’d bet there is some amount of this which is situational, and some of these kids may be horrified with themselves that they were participating. Mobs and other peer groupings can do that– support and fuel the very worst behaviors. This ability for a group to get carried away and have no moral compass is an aspect of this which is essential to recognize and address. It doesn’t in any way absolve the participants. In fact it indicts all of us to stand up immediately and loudly against bigotry, racism and this type of attack on others.
  3. This is white male privilege with no pretense or sugar coating. The victory chant celebrates keeping others out every bit as much as it dismisses the quality of black lives by mentioning lynching. Racial divides and racial issues aren’t simply about black and white, but about privilege and power yielding.

If we focus only on race and issues of black and white and never address privilege and power, we will never succeed at ending this type of behavior and will never bring about real mutual respect and celebration of diversity.

Comments are closed.